Demolition begins on Tulane Stadium, neighbors still concerned

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wwltv.com

Posted on January 30, 2013 at 11:32 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 30 at 11:42 PM

Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: tdall@wwltv.com | Twitter: @taniadall

NEW ORLEANS -- Now that a settlement agreement has been ironed out between Tulane and the city, demolition crews are busy at work making way for the university's new football stadium.

However, some neighbors are still concerned about their future.

"Two great big machines and huge dump trucks right outside the green fence," said Tricia Becker of the construction activity she watched and shot cell phone video of from her back window.

Since Monday, demolition crews have been busy at work tearing up Tulane's George Westfelt Practice Facility. A university press release says field bleachers, a scoreboard, tennis court stands, along with turf and track, are being removed.

"Whenever the shovel hit the ground, that would be an extra shake," said Becker.

The Uptown resident said the vibrations raised a red flag. Becker called the university to complain and they responded late this afternoon.

"Representatives of Tulane came out and basically what I got was, I'm sorry," said Becker.

Last Friday, Tulane got the green light from the city of New Orleans to move forward with its $60-million stadium project. Construction was put on-hold until a settlement agreement was finally reached taking into account community concerns.

"We feel like we have a clear, fair, enforceable agreement that balances the interests of the neighbors with Tulane," said Deputy Mayor of External Affairs City of New Orleans Emily Arata. She said Tulane made major compromises.

The agreement tackles issues like parking, lighting, noise, hours of operation, stadium usage and even design. Arata said the stadium wall will now be lowered by 25 percent, from 48 feet to 36 feet.

If Tulane doesn't adhere to the agreement, the city says there will be consequences.

"This agreement lays out clear damages that would have to paid by Tulane to the city if there were a violation. For example if Tulane fails to implement the parking plan, they would pay a $5,000 damage. If they fail to implement the litter plan or turn out the lights at the appropriate time, they would pay up to a $1,000 fine," said Arata.

Now that demolition permits have been issued, the Becker family says, agreement or not, concerns remain about the future of their home.

"I have no faith in the parking plan. I have no faith in calling Tulane and expecting them to do anything but 'I'm sorry,' and that just doesn't do it, said Becker.

According to media reports, several Uptown neighborhood associations drafted a letter voicing concerns about the settlement agreement between the university and city.

A press release issued by Tulane University says groundbreaking and pile driving at the site are scheduled to start in late February. It hopes to have the stadium complete by football season 2014.

Tulane University officials declined our request for an interview on Wednesday.

 

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